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Deuce & Spark

We just want a new map for Garmin Nuvi--that's all!

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I've been all over the Internet (and this forum) trying to figure out how to download and install a free updated map of the continental U.S. for our Garmin Nuvi 500. I can't seem to find anything that has simple, straightforward directions for downloading and installing. I went to sites like openstreetmap and openmapchest and they were pretty confusing. One site wanted me to load stuff onto an SD card, and I don't even know if my device has one. I then unsuccessfully tried to find a site that would tell me how I would know if I had one. I finally did download a map ending in .torrent to my PC, but then they wanted me to download another program just to open that file. I was a little wary of doing that.

 

I would be so grateful if someone would explain (or point me to a site that explains) in very simple, plain language how to put a current map on our Nuvi. I'm not a dumb person, and I thought getting a basic U.S. street map would be a quick and easy process, but I am stumped.

 

Looking forward to reading your replies. Please be patient with me. Thanks! :)

 

--Spark

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1. Does your Nuvi 500 come with lifetime map updates? (is it the the Nuvi 500 LM or LMT?)

 

If yes, use Garmin Express to update your map.

 

If no,

 

Let's go through your options.

 

-----------------------------------------

Garmin maps are a mix of simplicity and complexity. A routable map of the entire US is going to be large, so large that it likely won't fit directly on your Nuvi, thus the need for a SD card. Even Garmin's own map updates are usually larger than the internal storage on a Nuvi permits. Your Nuvi didn't come with an SD card, but there is a slot to insert one.

 

These large file sizes are also why they come as torrents. The .torrent file you downloaded is really just an identifier so that you can download files from the bit torrent network. This is a nice option in that you can actually download a single file from multiple sources at once, so you often get faster downloadd speeds than if you downloaded from a single server. To open your torrent file, you need a bit torrent client (google and you'll find one).

 

For the entire US, the OpenMapChest map might be the better option. Otherwise, you have to make sure you select all of the tiles from the open street map site, and then you wait in a queue for your custom map to be created. You will need a bit torrent client to download the map.

 

Garmin maps come in one of two formats: a .iso file, which is already compiled and ready to install on your GPS, or a .gmapi file, which has to be installed into basecamp first. I'm not sure which format OpenMapChest uses (OpenStreetMap gives you a choice of file types), but be prepared for either.

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If your Nuvi did not come with lifetime maps,and you don't mind a bit bigger Nuvi, I would suggest going to one of the many websites that sell Nuvis and buy a new one with lifetime maps (LM or LMT). I have a 40LM and a 1450LMT, both which cost less than $100. Granted, this was during past Black Fridays, but you can get the 40LM on Amazon right now for $85. You can download updated maps every quarter. That's way cheaper than buying a Garmin SD card with City Navigator (after which you can buy lifetime maps for another big chunk of change). There are also other Nuvis for similar prices. And another plus is that you can sell you 50 on Amazon and recover some of your purchase price for the new ones. If you don't want to sell it yourself, Amazon may give a credit for sending it to them to resell.

As for openstreetmaps, they can be somewhat difficult to download. It took me about 5 tries the last time, as I'm not a techie type person.

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Wow, lots of helpful replies in a short time. Thanks!

 

We do not have lifetime updates and prefer to stick with the Nuvi 500 (can't afford a different one anyway). Appreciate the info though.

 

I still am not sure whether or not we have an SD card. I don't think we do, but how can I find out for sure?

 

And it looks like openmapchest is not feasible unless we have an SD card, correct?

 

We don't travel much. Iowa, western IL, southeast MN, and southwest WI. Every one or two years we drive to Florida. So I guess we really don't need the whole U.S. Just figured the maps came that way.

 

Looks like selecting tiles from openstreetmap might be the way to go. Thanks for the links! But what happens if I do that and then we someday drive to a place I didn't choose tiles for? Does the screen just go blank, or will the old maps still come up?

 

And I am wondering what a basecamp is.

 

I think I'm getting pretty close to having this thing figured out. You folks are awesome!

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The huge weakness of Openstreet maps is the Point of Interest is far less populated then the official Garmin maps. So if you find yourself using it for that purpose, it will disappoint.

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The huge weakness of Openstreet maps is the Point of Interest is far less populated then the official Garmin maps. So if you find yourself using it for that purpose, it will disappoint.

 

We mostly use the Nuvi to store geocache data from GSAK so we can drive to the caches and then use our ancient ETrex to pinpoint the exact coords. (Not cutting-edge technology, but it works well enough for us to have fun caching, and that's the important thing. :) ) Seems to me that POIs like gas stations, restaurants, etc. move or go out of business so quickly anymore that having them on there wouldn't be all that relevant, at least not to us. That's a good thing to know, though.

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To me, the biggest drawback of OpenStreetMaps compared to Garmin's CIty navigator is the address lookup. On OSM, it gets me to the street (sometimes), but not the the specific address. Sometimes the address search gives a result that is miles away from the actual address. But if you are just navigating to favorites, POI's or geocaches with specific coordinates, the OSM works fine most of the time.

 

I think the micro SD slot on the nuvi 500 is under the battery, so you need to remove the battery to install the card or check to see if one is already installed. I would definitely get a micro SD card and install the map there. Sometimes a corrupt map file can cause your nuvi to fail to boot. If the maps are on a card you can simply remove the card to get the nuvi operational again.

Edited by alandb

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The huge weakness of Openstreet maps is the Point of Interest is far less populated then the official Garmin maps. So if you find yourself using it for that purpose, it will disappoint.

 

I think that depends on the map and which POIs interest you. I have Garmin and various OSM mapping and often switch between them all to locate specific POIs, often what I can't find on one I can on another.

Edited by sussamb

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The huge weakness of Openstreet maps is the Point of Interest is far less populated then the official Garmin maps. So if you find yourself using it for that purpose, it will disappoint.

 

I think that depends on the map and which POIs interest you. I have Garmin and various OSM mapping and often switch between them all to locate specific POIs, often what I can't find on one I can on another.

It should also be noted that POI's and addresses and details about roads are far more and populated and accurate in most European, Asian, and New Zealand maps than they are in the US. That is... it seems that the European community is better at contributing data to OSM than the American community.

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I think the micro SD slot on the nuvi 500 is under the battery, so you need to remove the battery to install the card or check to see if one is already installed. I would definitely get a micro SD card and install the map there. Sometimes a corrupt map file can cause your nuvi to fail to boot. If the maps are on a card you can simply remove the card to get the nuvi operational again.

 

That's one thing I'm really worried about--installing a map and causing the Nuvi to become unusable. Thanks for addressing that issue! Took a look under the battery and yes, there was an empty slot for an SD card.

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About making the Nuvi unusable;

Most of the times the map is called gmapsupp.img and often a map with THE SAME name is installed.

Overwriting the original data will destroy that data.

 

The downloading of torrent (illegal Garmin) maps might result in a virus and often the map itself doesn't work.

 

If you go to the OSM site you see some possibilities, the easy one is the gmapsupp selection, you can download this file and

put it on an SD card (your Nuvi won't have the needed free space) in the Garmin folder, that folder you need to make yourself.

 

Then in the Nuvi menu you have to go to Maps and deselect the old one and select the new map.

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Here is another option for free maps that are based on the OSM maps but feature

Driving directions, Address search, Searchable POIs, Updated weekly and Instructions.

There are maps available for Argentina, Austrailia & New Zealand, Brazil, Canada, Caribbean, Cental America, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, South America, South Aftrica, The Philippines, United Kingdom & Ireland and the United States.

http://www.openmapchest.org/

http://www.openmapchest.org/maps/united-states

Edited by Big&LittleZee

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The downloading of torrent (illegal Garmin) maps might result in a virus and often the map itself doesn't work.

Please don't make baseless statements such as this. There are a bunch of perfectly legal, legitimate maps that are distributed as .torrent files. Yes there are some pirated maps out there, but just the fact that it uses .torrent files does not make it illegal.

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The downloading of torrent (illegal Garmin) maps might result in a virus and often the map itself doesn't work.

Please don't make baseless statements such as this. There are a bunch of perfectly legal, legitimate maps that are distributed as .torrent files. Yes there are some pirated maps out there, but just the fact that it uses .torrent files does not make it illegal.

 

The files at openmapchest.com are distributed as .torrent files. These are legal and compiled from Open Street Map data. It's an easier way to get the entire US at once than going to garmin.openstreetmap.nl

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We don't travel much. Iowa, western IL, southeast MN, and southwest WI. Every one or two years we drive to Florida. So I guess we really don't need the whole U.S. Just figured the maps came that way.

 

Looks like selecting tiles from openstreetmap might be the way to go. Thanks for the links! But what happens if I do that and then we someday drive to a place I didn't choose tiles for? Does the screen just go blank, or will the old maps still come up?

 

 

You can just get a new map from OSM. Move the old map to your computer and copy the new one to the Nuvi. Reverse when you return. You could do a route map for the trip. I use the OSMs on my Oregon. It reverts to the base map when you leave the detail area. I think that's what the Nuvi does but I'm not positive.

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I use the OSMs on my Oregon. It reverts to the base map when you leave the detail area. I think that's what the Nuvi does but I'm not positive.

 

That's correct for the nuvis also.

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The downloading of torrent (illegal Garmin) maps might result in a virus and often the map itself doesn't work.

Please don't make baseless statements such as this. There are a bunch of perfectly legal, legitimate maps that are distributed as .torrent files. Yes there are some pirated maps out there, but just the fact that it uses .torrent files does not make it illegal.

 

The files at openmapchest.com are distributed as .torrent files. These are legal and compiled from Open Street Map data. It's an easier way to get the entire US at once than going to garmin.openstreetmap.nl

 

Whew, I was a little scared there that I had broken the law by downloading that .torrent file to my PC. Relieved to see that's not the case!

 

About the last two replies (fishgeek and sussamb): That makes perfect sense to me, moving maps on and off the Nuvi. Kind of like filling a flash drive with files to take someplace else, and then deleting them when you get home and don't need them on there anymore.

 

I see an 8GB SD card on amazon for $10. It says it works on the Nuvi 500 and has lots of good reviews. I think that's the way I'm going to go. Thanks again to everyone for all the help. Happy caching!!!

Edited by Deuce & Spark

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The downloading of torrent (illegal Garmin) maps might result in a virus and often the map itself doesn't work.

Please don't make baseless statements such as this. There are a bunch of perfectly legal, legitimate maps that are distributed as .torrent files. Yes there are some pirated maps out there, but just the fact that it uses .torrent files does not make it illegal.

 

I should have written; the download of illegal Garmin map torrents might result in a virus.

Since the OP seems to start from scratch and was struggling with a torrent that needed another script to open that file it

seemed appropriate to warn him.

I never intended to harm any download site or map download system.

 

Hope this solves the misunderstanding.

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The downloading of torrent (illegal Garmin) maps might result in a virus and often the map itself doesn't work.

Please don't make baseless statements such as this. There are a bunch of perfectly legal, legitimate maps that are distributed as .torrent files. Yes there are some pirated maps out there, but just the fact that it uses .torrent files does not make it illegal.

 

I should have written; the download of illegal Garmin map torrents might result in a virus.

Since the OP seems to start from scratch and was struggling with a torrent that needed another script to open that file it

seemed appropriate to warn him.

I never intended to harm any download site or map download system.

 

Hope this solves the misunderstanding.

 

Hey, no worries, it's all good! That's cool of you to write back and clarify. :)

Edited by Deuce & Spark

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I think the micro SD slot on the nuvi 500 is under the battery, so you need to remove the battery to install the card or check to see if one is already installed. I would definitely get a micro SD card and install the map there. Sometimes a corrupt map file can cause your nuvi to fail to boot. If the maps are on a card you can simply remove the card to get the nuvi operational again.

 

That's one thing I'm really worried about--installing a map and causing the Nuvi to become unusable. Thanks for addressing that issue! Took a look under the battery and yes, there was an empty slot for an SD card.

 

I would get a Garmin City Nav map on the SD card and you're good to go....I have 4 Nuvi's set up like that.

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You said you only wanted updated maps. But please consider, the Nuvi500 is a 3.5in model GPS. Unless you can find a way to get free maps, I would seriously be thinking about getting something else. During Black Friday, one time map updates were going for $19.99 and lifetime for $49.99. You may still be able to find a similar bargain as we get closer to X-mas. There are quite a few 5in LMT models currently going for around $150.00. You can find cheaper GPS units, but eventually you will be in the same situation w/ outdated maps. Also, check out Ebay and Amazon as they sometimes offer refurbs that will meet your needs. All the best whatever you decide.

Edited by Peoria Bill

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You said you only wanted updated maps. But please consider, the Nuvi500 is a 3.5in model GPS. Unless you can find a way to get free maps, I would seriously be thinking about getting something else. During Black Friday, one time map updates were going for $19.99 and lifetime for $49.99. You may still be able to find a similar bargain as we get closer to X-mas. There are quite a few 5in LMT models currently going for around $150.00. You can find cheaper GPS units, but eventually you will be in the same situation w/ outdated maps. Also, check out Ebay and Amazon as they sometimes offer refurbs that will meet your needs. All the best whatever you decide.

 

The Nuvi 500 is one of the very few GPSers that I know of that permits the user to directly load cache locations and info from GSAK. If we drive past a cache that we have loaded, it will show up as a symbol (depending on the type of cache) on the map. We can also touch the "geocache" button and see how far away and in which direction the nearest caches are, relative to our current location. Then we touch the name of a given cache to get all the details so we can go after it.

 

If there are newer and reasonably priced GPSers on the market that have that geocaching feature, we're interested. Otherwise, we want to stick with what we have.

 

BTW, Peoria Bill, my (Spark's) mom and a bunch of relatives live near Peoria. I really enjoy caching in and around Canton. :)

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You are correct Deuce & Spark. I think the Nuvi 5xx model is the only nuvi that was a true "crossover" ... an automotive GPS with full road navigation capability that is also fully geocaching friendly. The only Garmin unit that can compare now is the Montana or Monterra ... handheld units that with the added maps and automotive cradle can serve both purposes. But with the added cost of maps and the cradle they are very expensive. So the 5xx nuvi is unique and useful in its own right. SInce you are happy with it, IMO it is worth the investment for a map upgrade.

Edited by alandb

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You are correct Deuce & Spark. I think the Nuvi 5xx model is the only nuvi that was a true "crossover" ... an automotive GPS with full road navigation capability that is also fully geocaching friendly. The only Garmin unit that can compare now is the Montana or Monterra ... handheld units that with the added maps and automotive cradle can serve both purposes. But with the added cost of maps and the cradle they are very expensive. So the 5xx nuvi is unique and useful in its own right. SInce you are happy with it, IMO it is worth the investment for a map upgrade.

 

I agree.....our 500 is a great little unit.....my wife takes it with her whenever she flies out of town and it pretty much stays in her car.

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